by Alison Mclean, physical therapist, yoga teacher, and owner of Ignite Wellness in Encinitas
Intentions. This can be a word you either love or hate. Regardless, it’s one that can make a dramatic effect in your life, especially in your health and wellness. How? By helping you to focus on your goals and deﬁne your boundaries. A perfect way to give those New Year’s resolutions a turbo boost and more importantly staying power, since normally this time of year they begin to fade.
Personally, focusing is a challenge because I love to dream and integrate ideas that might not seem to ﬁt together with my health, wellness and business. It is easy for me to get distracted. However, what I will describe below I implement into my life as well as, help my patients and clients. Just last week I had a patient in the clinic who wanted to evolve their yoga practice. Their goal was to feel stronger, reduce their back pain, all while feeling less fatigue and stress. A tall order, but realistic with time, diligence and dedication. To achieve these goals this patient needs to be intentional. In the past this patient was easily distracted by other quick ﬁxes, excuses or what seemed to be urgent issues. For example, they would miss a yoga class because a friend needed help last minute. Instead, if they were focused they might have squeezed in a short practice at home, but because they were exhausted from beating themselves up over missing class they just went to bed.
Once in a while life happens, interfering with the day’s intentions. However, when distractions happen consistently, or you do not have clear boundaries to say “no” to take care of yourself, then most likely you won’t achieve your goals. There is a misunderstanding that self care is comfort, in the form of massages, baths, and leisure time on the couch with a book. This can be true, however at times self care can be uncomfortable. This discomfort can be in the form of sticking to boundaries, or choosing the workout that challenges you, or sitting in stillness to meditate. If you really want to make a change in how you feel then it’s time to take a step back and observe your patterns, fears and natural tendencies. Decide what works, and what needs to be changed. Notice when you choose short term immediate comfort vs. discomfort for the long term goal.
For the patient I mentioned earlier, we created a strategy to stay intentional about their goals, deﬁne boundaries in their life, and set up a self care routine to support their intentions. How would you incorporate these steps into your life?
For myself, I also use the word “intentional” as a reminder or reset switch. How does this work? It is catching yourself about to say yes to an activity or commitment that impacts your health time negatively, and instead have the courage to say “no” to an activity that is a distraction and “yes” to yourself. It is also being aware of the constant background chatter in your mind. Is this self talk fueling your goals, or beating you down? For example, let’s say I have the goal of meditating 5 days a week for 20 minutes. I can catch myself when my self doubt begins to question the results of meditating or, creates excuses of why I shouldn’t meditate. Instead I can catch myself in that moment when I’m about to schedule something into my meditation time. I can check in, and ask myself if am I being intentional? Does this ﬁt my goal? Then I can make a conscious decision based upon clear reasoning, instead of just reacting and ﬁnding out later that commitment didn’t serve my goals. The trick is being aware enough to catch yourself in these pivotal moments.
The other part of this process is clearly knowing where you want to go, and the steps (small and large) that will help you to get there. For example, what activities or dreams is your back pain limiting you from? If you have more energy what does this achieve for you? Meditation and journaling may help with deﬁning your direction and path. When you are clear on why you have a certain intention, then you can navigate through the days that don’t work out as planned and get back on track the following day. This deeper purpose allows you to stay true to your intention, while still having ﬂexibility to maneuver around curve balls or other shifts that may be needed along the way. What are your intentions for 2019?
Alison Mclean, physical therapist and yoga teacher, is the owner of Ignite Wellness, a clinic where physical therapy and yoga are combined to help active & busy adults get back to their healthy lifestyle, by reducing nagging aches, lowering stress, and boosting energy.
You can learn more at: www.igniteurwellness.com or call (858) 248 2272.